Monday, November 12, 2018

Puppy Huxley, Chew, Chew, Chew!

                                 Puppy Huxley, Chew, Chew, Chew!
                                           By Valerie L. Egar

Layla lingered at the cage, gazing at the oversized puppy with black and golden fur who looked at her eagerly. One ear stood straight up and the other flopped down. He held his tail high in the air and it curled over his body like a question mark. “Are you sure he’s a puppy?” At five months old, the young dog weighed fifty pounds and stood tall as her school desk.
“Look how big his paws are. He hasn’t grown into them yet,” Dad said.
        “What kind of dog is he?” Layla asked.
The shelter’s adoption counselor smiled. “I’d guess a little collie, mixed with some golden retriever and maybe a hint of German Shepherd.”
“Sit,” Layla said. The dog sat. “Good boy, Huxley,” said Layla.
Layla nodded. “I saw the name in a book I read.”
 Huxley went home with his new family, but not before they stopped at the pet food store to buy puppy chow and a nice squeaky stuffed frog for Huxley to play with.
 Huxley liked his new toy, but he was curious and had to find out how it made noise. He held it down with one paw and tore at it with his teeth. Soon the stuffing and the plastic squeaker were on the floor. He carried the unstuffed frog to Layla. “Oh, Huxley!” she sighed.
Huxley liked discovering new things to chew. Mom brought in bags of groceries. Huxley stuck his head in every bag when Mom wasn’t looking. He found a box of tea bags, carried it to his dog bed and chewed it open. Tea smelled nice, but Huxley didn’t want to eat it. 
Dad hung pictures in his office and left the hammer on the floor. Huxley thought it looked a little like a bone. He carried it to his dog bed and chewed on the handle. Yuck! It didn’t have much flavor. Dad found the hammer decorated with tooth marks.
A bottle of water looked very interesting and it was easy to carry when Huxley grasped it by the top with his teeth. He carried it to his dog bed and gnawed on it. Eww! It made his bed wet.
The vacuum made too much noise. Huxley fixed it by chewing the electric cord off.
Magazines had wonderful scented paper perfume samples inside. Huxley loved how they smelled. Too bad he had to tear up the whole magazine just to get to them out.
 Huxley found a feedbag of nuts and dried fruit his family bought to feed the woodpeckers. Huxley put his head deep into the bag and gobbled the woodpecker food. It was delicious. “Are you a woodpecker?” his family asked. “That’s not for you, Huxley.”
When his family forgot to shut the closet door, Huxley explored inside and found piles of shoes. They had funny looking spiky sticks on one end and looked hard to walk on. They were made from leather though and rather tasty. He chewed a red one, a blue one and another that was an odd shade of brown.
“Good thing I don’t wear high heels anymore,” Mom said. “You’re helping me clear the closet, Huxley.”
Layla found him with a canister of oatmeal, the lid chewed off and oatmeal sprinkled all over. “Oh, Huxley,” Layla said. “When are you going to grow up?” 
Huxley’s family went to the store and bought lots of chew toys for him—fancy ones shaped like bones and rubber ones they stuffed with treats. Maybe, just maybe, he would chew on his toys instead of things he wasn’t supposed to chew, like table legs and TV remotes. Huxley enjoyed his new toys, but he was still a puppy and now and then, he still decided to taste something new.
“Oh, Huxley! Not my science homework!”

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Copyright 2017 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied, reproduced or distributed without permission from the author.
Published December 31, 2017, Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Moon Egg

                                                           The Moon Egg
                                                         By Valerie L. Egar

Of all the animals in the forest, only the Blue Jays knew the latest gossip. Like the town criers of olden times who shouted news from street corners, cries of “Jay, jay, jay!” alerted all the birds and animals to gather for an announcement.
“Fox has discovered a great treasure!” Jay cried from the top of an oak tree.

 “It is small and round like the moon, and though it does not move, it has a beating heart,” shouted another.
All the animals waited expectantly to see Fox’s treasure, and Fox soon appeared. He gently placed a small silver disc in the clearing. The animals gathered around to take a closer look.
“Indeed, it is round like the moon,” observed Squirrel, “and smaller than a horse chestnut.”
“Silver on one side,” said Otter, who touched it gingerly. “But the other side has a design at the edge of the circle with two lines pointing at the design. Might it be a young turtle?”
Turtle moved forward and examined it. “Not a turtle,” she pronounced. “Definitely not.”
 “Maybe it’s a baby moon,” said Mourning Dove. Most of the animals thought her a bit daft, but since they had no idea what it was, they shrugged.
“It’s alive,” said Fox. “Listen.”
“Is that a heart beat?”
 “It doesn’t sound like a heart,” said Bear.  “My heart goes thumpa-thumpa. That goes ti-ta,ti-ta, ti-ta.”
“Well, you’re a grown bear!” said Fox. “Not a baby whatever.”
“But it doesn’t move,” said Wolf, prodding it with its foot. “Animals move.”
“Not if it hasn’t hatched yet,” admonished Mourning Dove. “If it’s an egg, we need to keep it warm.”
“I’m not giving it up,” said Fox. “I found it.”
“We can take turns,” said Bear. They decided each animal would keep the egg warm in shifts of one hour each until it hatched.
The first day proceeded without incident.
On the second day, Wolf began to wonder whether the moon (or whatever hatched) would belong to him if it hatched when he was keeping it warm. Fox wondered the same thing.
“What if it something delicious hatched?” Bear thought. “Would the animals share with each other?”
The animals began bickering. Squirrel tried to change her time with Fox because she noticed the egg glowed in the dark and she liked  watching it at night.
        Wolf thought Bear was putting in too much time minding the egg and planned to steal it. Mourning Dove felt bitter that animals from miles away showed up wanting to help when she’d been working from the beginning.
            The bickering turned fierce and soon the animals were arguing. “I’ve put in the most hours!”  “My fur is warmer than your thin feathers!” “I found it and it’s mine!” The howls and growls could be heard all over the forest. They argued so long, they forget about warming the egg. When they finally remembered, the ti-ta, ti-ta, ti-ta inside had stopped.
            “You killed it!” shouted Fox to Bear.
            “Me? Mourning Dove started the argument!”
            “Did not.” The fighting resumed.
            The Jays sounded an alert for Owl to put matters to rest. Owl was a wise judge and esteemed by all the forest animals for her wisdom. She swooped in and took her post on the branch of an ash tree.

            “These beasts have murdered my moon baby,” the Fox cried. “At least I think it was a moon baby. But whatever it was, they’ve killed it!” He held up the round silver disc all of them had been keeping warm.
            Owl looked at the round object, turning it over in her talons.
            “It’s heart was beating until the fighting started,” yelled the Jays.
            “All Bear’s fault,” whispered Mourning Dove.
             “Silence!” screeched Owl. She viewed them sternly. “This is called a watch. Unlike us, humans have no sense of time and need something to tell them when to eat and sleep.”
The animals started to giggle. “Imagine not knowing when to eat!” “I sleep when I’m tired!”  Soon they were laughing so hard, they’d forgotten their anger.
Owl dropped the watch in the nearby lake where it sank to the bottom and sparkled for the fish.

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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied, reproduced or distributed without permission from the author.
Published November 4, 2018 Biddeford Journal Tribune (Biddeford, ME)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Too Many Rocks!

                                                            Too Many Rocks!
                                                            By Valerie L. Egar

            When Lily Amelia Merriweather grew tired of her glamorous life in the city, she packed her evening gowns and high heels, the pictures from her world travels and her little dog, Noodle. She drove to the country and bought a farm. A very rocky farm. Everywhere she looked, she saw rocks. Grey rocks flecked with white and yellow.  Others striped with pink.
            Rocks clunked against her shovel as she planted flowers. Some, the size of duck eggs, a few big as pumpkins. “Too many rocks!” she complained.

            Noodle hid behind rocks when he didn’t want to come inside. Lily Amelia walked up and down calling his name, hopping he would sneeze so she could find him.  “Too many rocks!” she declared.
            Her high heels caught on rocks when she walked to the mailbox and she fell, tearing her lace evening gown. “Too many rocks!”  Lily Amelia wrapped a few rocks from the garden in the torn dress and slipped them into the garbage can.  Gone!
           She looked around the house.  She tucked rocks in the ruffles of her purple evening gown and out they went! She stuffed rocks in the toes of her high heel shoes and tossed them.  Lily Amelia filled pillowcases, crystal bowls, baskets, vases and umbrella stands. When she loaded her suitcases with rocks, she was glad they had wheels. Lily Amelia threw away so many rocks, she had nothing left in her house to put them in.
The house was bare. Lily Amelia stood on her porch and looked. Grey rocks flecked with white and yellow. Others striped with pink. Lots of them, everywhere.
That night Lily Amelia sat on the porch and looked through the photo albums of her travels. The Great Wall of China. Stonehenge. The  Egyptian Pyramids, Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Taj Mahal. “Hmmmm.”
The next day, Lily Amelia built a neat rock wall at the edge of her field.  Then she built a tower. When she climbed the steps and looked out from the top, she could see the ocean far away.
She used the prettiest rocks to turn her house into a castle, and added a stone fountain in front. Then she made a smaller castle for Noodle and built a small fountain in front of that, too.
            She made a rock garden  at the edge of a field with a splendid sun dial she carved from stone.
            And, because she was getting to be very good at building things from rocks, she made a pyramid in the back yard just for fun.
         People driving by slowed down when they saw all she had done. She invited them in for a tour.
            Soon busloads of people were coming to see Lily Amelia’s Rocky Haven Wonderland.
            They took pictures of the view from the top of the tower.
            They took pictures of Noodle in his dog castle.
            They picnicked next to the pyramid and set their watches by the sundial in the garden.
            They admired the grey rocks flecked with white and yellow and the ones striped with pink.
            And, when they went to the gift shop, they always bought a few rocks to take home as souvenirs.

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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied, reproduced or distributed without permission from the author.
Published October 28, 2018 Biddeford Journal Tribune (Biddeford, ME).


Monday, October 22, 2018

Maddie and Ms. Thumblebuster

                                    Maddie and Ms. Thumblebuster
                                                                      By Valerie L. Egar

            Maddie talked to trees.  That wasn’t  unusual— more than a few people say a word or two to trees, usually under their breath.  “Pretty flowers,” or, “Wow. You’re beautiful.” But Maddie insisted that when she talked to trees, the trees talked back. They had long conversations.
Needless to say, most adults didn’t believe Maddie. A few thought perhaps she’d been dropped on her head when she was a baby.  Others called her “imaginative” and “fanciful” and agreed she’d soon outgrow it.   But her real problem arose when she became a member of Ms. Thumblebuster’s fourth grade class. 

Oh, Ms. Thumblebuster was tough! She ate uncooked oats for breakfast and texted in capital letters.  She loved numbers and measurements and facts, no matter how trivial. On the first day of school, she held a banana in one hand and a strawberry in the other. “Which one is a berry?” Everyone except her nephew Ralphie pointed to the strawberry.
“Ralphie gets an ‘A’!  Technically, a banana is a berry!” she shouted triumphantly. She loved the word ‘technically.’
When Ms. Thumblebuster overheard Maddie telling the other girls that she talked to the willow tree in her backyard and the tree yearned to be a ballet dancer, she put Maddie in the corner. “No lies in this classroom! Facts only!”
“But,” Maddie insisted, “that is exactly what the tree said.”
“Trees DO NOT talk!” Ms. Thumblebuster shouted. “You will stay after school today.”
When school was over, Ms. Thumblebuster  told Maddie to write, ‘Trees do not talk’ one hundred times. Maddie did as she was asked, but as she wrote ‘Trees do not talk,’ she whispered to herself, ‘to Ms. Thumblebuster.’ Maddie had a feeling Ms. Thumblebuster wouldn’t hear a tree talking even if it shouted as loud as she did.
As the school year progressed, Ralphie was not only his aunt’s pet, but also the class bully. Pushing, shoving, calling names, taking lunches, kicking backpacks, Ralphie was a

 problem. Maddie had enough! “See that oak tree,” she said, pointing to the tall tree in the middle of the school playground. “It told me it is going to pelt you with acorns if you keep it up.”
“You’re nuts,” he taunted. “Trees don’t talk.”
“Really? Then how do I know your middle name is Wattles?”
Ralphie blinked. “You saw it somewhere?”
“If that’s what you want to believe.”
That night, Ralphie, had a nightmare about the oak tree running after him, hard acorns hitting his head. Ms. Thumblebuster accused Maddie of bullying Ralphie. “You made him have terrible dreams!” While Ralphie went home to watch movies about zombies and ghouls after school, poor Maddie stayed to write a letter apologizing for frightening him.
“Dear Ralphie,” Maddie began. “I am sorry you had a bad dream about the oak tree on the playground. The tree is not happy with how you act, but it didn’t say it would throw acorns at you. I made that part up.  Trees hate bullies though, and you should stop being one. Sincerely, Maddie.”
“You call this an apology?” Ms. Thumblebuster  bellowed. “You are a very impertinent girl. I-M-P-E-R-T-I-N-E-N-T. Do you know what that means?”
“Yes,” Maddie said. “That you’re probably going to call my Mom.”
Maddie sighed walking home. It looked like it was going to be a very long, awful year.
Every tree along the way offered sympathy. “Don’t lose hope, Maddie.” “Maddie, hearing us is your super-power.”
“But I want you to DO something!” she shouted. “Ms. Thumblebuster is so unfair! Ralphie is awful!”

The trees fanned Maddie with their leaves and whispered tree songs. The willow in the back yard twirled its beautiful long branches in a lovely dance. But they all agreed they couldn’t fix what was wrong with Ms. Thumblebuster or Ralphie. All they could tell Maddie was that there were others like her and that over time, she would find them. Because she trusted the trees, she believed them, but on the days she knew Ralphie was aiming to steal her lunch, she filled her lunch bag with acorns.
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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied, reproduced or  distributed without permission from the author.
Published October 21, 2018 Biddeford Journal Tribune (Biddeford, ME).

Valerie L. Egar is an author from Maine, USA. She loves animals, long walks in the woods and her husky, Phoenix.  Follow her on FACEBOOK!